I started in music video production over 12 years ago first doing music videos for independent artists in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, but after my 4th "indie" music video I had my first major music video for U-God of the Wu-Tang Clan which aired on BET's Rap City.
I got into music video production because I would see music videos on TV made with high budgets that turned out crappy. I would always say "I could do way better with a lower budget". So I put my money where my mouth was, brought a camera and an editing computer and 17 music videos later the rest is history.
Getting into music video production is very easy. Think about it. No matter where you live, there are music artists looking to pay someone to shoot and edit their music video – so you already have a starving market. But when most managers get their first music video, whether it be indie or celeb, they get 2 important things wrong. Let me explain.
First, if you want to get into music video production there's one thing you need to know. Keep It Simple Stupid. Again, when I started I only had a camera (Canon XL1) and an editing computer. I did not have all the bells and whistles that most people in my field had.
When I got my first music video I kept the concept simple.The song had 3 versa so I shot 3 different performance scenes (the scenes where the artists are seen performing the song) for each verse and we went to a lot of different locations and shot b-roll footage (scenes that you see in music videos where no one is performing ie: car driving in slow motion or sexy girl slow grinding on someone in the club). It only took 2 days. By the time it was all said and done, I submitted it to BET and it aired on Uncut and Rap City. You understand me right. My first music video aired on national TV.
I am a firm believer in "making it work with what you got" and as a film maker, you should always keep that in mind. Bigger budget does not always mean better final product. When you do not have unlimited resources you're forced to think and make do with what you've got, and some of the hottest music videos are born from that seed.
Next, you must know that to make a good music video you need good locations, extras, and props. Most importantly you need to know that you do not have to pay for any of these; atleast I never have.
Lets talk about my first music video and one of it's major locations, crazy props, and extras. I needed a church scene where a funeral was taking place and the choir was singing in the background. That meant I needed floral arrangements, a casket, an extra to play the guy laying in the casket, a church, a Reverend, and about 20 people to fill in the pews. All I did to get these items was simply ask.
To get the casket I went to a funeral home and told them I need a casket for someone to lay in for a music video shoot. Keep in mind when setting up a scene you have to think in real world time. Make your scene look the way it would in real life. That's when it hit me that I needed flowers to go around the casket, so I asked the funeral home where I could get flowers to decorate the scene. They pointed me to a flower shop they worked with and theyave me a slew of floral arrangements made just for funerals.
My next feat was getting a church. This was a little more difficult being that it was a rap video and most churches do not agree with that type of music. After being turned down by 3 different churches, I found a church that said yes. I had access to the choir and their reverend.
I had everything I needed for my scene all without paying a cent out of my budget. To achieve this, simply say "I need to use (name of item) for a music video shoot but we have exhausted our budget. at the end of the music video. "
I have never been told no (except for the 3 churches). Using this statement, I have used stranger's vehicles, schools, resorts, hotels and many other props, locations and extras that most director's pay for when they do not have to. All it takes is just asking.
Just knowing these two things will make your entry into the music video production field as easy as mine was and if you are already in the music video industry, use this info to keep more of the budget in your pocket.
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